Some 850 informal economy workers whose livelihood were affected by the quarantine measures in the National Capital Region (NCR) will receive with a free bicycle livelihood assistance by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).

Signed by DOLE Secretary Silvestre Bello III through Administrative Order No. 188-A, Series of 2020, or the “Guidelines of the Department of Labor and Employment Free Bisikleta (FreeBis) Project,” the qualified beneficiaries cover individual or group of self-employed workers with insufficient income or whose livelihood were affected by the imposition of community quarantine, unpaid family workers, women, or low/minimum wage earners who are interested to venture into food vending or delivery services, utilizing a bicycle for mobility, bicycle servicing shops, fabrication or customization.

DOLE-NCR Regional Director Sarah Buena S. Mirasol said that the FreeBis Project started with an online survey conducted by the DOLE Institute for Labor Studies (ILS) in July and August 2020, with almost half of the survey respondents residing from Metro Manila.

“We noticed a large number of cyclists sa daan during this time of pandemic that’s why nagkaroon ng survey para malaman kung ano ang pwede natin gawin to help with the transportation,” Mirasol said, adding that the government’s health and safety protocol was the deciding factor of the entire DOLE Project Management Team during the development stage of the FreeBis guidelines to avoid the spread of COVID-19.

For the individual FreeBis livelihood project, the amount of assistance shall not exceed P20,000 while the group livelihood project shall not exceed the group category for micro-livelihood pursuant to DOLE Department Order 173-17 or the “Revised Guidelines in the Implementation of the Department of Labor and Employment Integrated Livelihood and Emergency Employment Programs (DILEEP).”

Initially implemented in NCR, the 850 beneficiaries will receive an individual Freebis livelihood project composed of a bicycle unit, helmet, raincoat, water bottle, thermal bag, reflectorized vest, bicycle rack, cellphone unit (android) with an e-loading wallet worth P5,000.

During the pre-implementation phase, the beneficiaries shall be enrolled to an insurance coverage under the GSIS Group Personal Accident Insurance (GPAI) and to undergo training on basic safety and health standards, traffic regulations, simple book keeping, productivity, savings, and other relevant training that may be conducted in partnership with relevant agencies. In the post-implementation phase, the beneficiaries will also receive continuing technical and business advisory services to ensure the sustainability of the project.

Meanwhile, the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) had already conducted Road Safety virtual orientation with DOLE-NCR and Public Employment Service Offices on October 12, 2020 to help the project implementers in re-echoing the Basic Bike Safety seminar, which is part of the labor department’s Social Preparation Training for the beneficiaries before they receive their livelihood undertaking.

The official launching of the FreeBis Project will kick-off on October 26, 2020 at the DOLE Central Office in Intramuros together with the City Government of Manila, plus a simultaneous awarding in Mandaluyong, Pasig, and Muntinlupa. Other local government units, such as in Malabon, Navotas, Valenzuela, Taguig, Parañaque, Las Piñas, Quezon, Pasay, Makati, San Juan, and Pateros are scheduled on October 27, 2020 while Caloocan and Marikina on October 28, 2020.

One of the highlights of the program launch will be the signing of the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) on FreeBis Project Convergence Program with Grab and LalaFood.